verb (used without object)
  1. to move quickly or suddenly with a loud humming or buzzing sound: cars zooming by on the freeway.
  2. to fly an airplane suddenly and sharply upward at great speed for a short distance, as in regaining altitude, clearing an obstacle, or signaling.
  3. Movies, Television. to bring a subject, scene, etc., into closeup or cause it to recede into a long shot using a zoom lens and while maintaining focus.
  4. Informal. to increase or rise suddenly and sharply: Rents would zoom without rent control laws.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cause (an airplane) to zoom.
  2. to fly over (an obstacle) by zooming.
  1. the act or process of zooming.
  2. a zooming sound.
  3. Informal. zoom lens.
  4. Also called zoom shot. Movies, Television. a shot in which a subject, scene, or action is brought closer or made to recede by the use of a zoom lens.
Verb Phrases
  1. zoom in (on),
    1. to bring (a subject, scene, etc.) into closeup by using a zoom lens: to zoom in for a look at the injured man; to zoom in on a candidate at a political convention.
    2. to examine more closely or in greater detail; focus on: The panel zoomed in on the subject of abortion.

Origin of zoom

First recorded in 1885–90; imitative

Synonyms for zoom

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for zoom in on


  1. to make or cause to make a continuous buzzing or humming sound
  2. to move or cause to move with such a sound
  3. (intr) to move very rapidly; rushwe zoomed through town
  4. to cause (an aircraft) to climb briefly at an unusually steep angle, or (of an aircraft) to climb in this way
  5. (intr) (of prices) to rise rapidly
  1. the sound or act of zooming
  2. See zoom lens

Word Origin for zoom

C20: of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for zoom in on


1886, of echoic origin. Gained popularity c.1917 as aviators began to use it; zoom lens is 1936.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with zoom in on

zoom in on


Obtain a close up view of the subject with a camera, as in The TV people zoomed in on the Olympic gold medalist. [Mid-1900s]


Focus on, examine closely, as in The moderator got the panelists to zoom in on the health-care issue. [Second half of 1900s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.